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Monday, December 03, 2018

Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne

Kate and the BeanstalkI love fairy tale adaptations, especially when they do something new with the source material! Such is the case with Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne, who you may recognize as the author of the Magic Tree House books. I picked this book up hoping to find a slightly different story from the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk (if you are interested in Jack's story, though, we have a number of adaptations!). I was not disappointed! Instead of simply swapping the gender of the hero, Osborne gave Kate some extra motivations behind her quest.

Kate lives on a farm with her mother, who despairs that unless they sell their only cow, they will starve. Kate volunteers to sell the cow at the market and instead swaps her for magic beans from a beggar. Upset, Mother throws the beans outside, where overnight, they grow into a massive beanstalk leading up into the clouds. Kate climbs the beanstalk, and once she reaches the top, she encounters an old woman who points out the nearby castle. The old woman tells her of the noble knight and his family who used to live in the castle until a giant took over the castle and committed terrible crimes against the knight. The old woman beseeches Kate to take back the treasures in the castle that the giant stole from the knight and return them to the knight's widow so that she and her child won't starve.

It is with the purpose of righting this wrong that Kate sneaks into the castle, befriends the giant's beleaguered wife, and fulfills the rest of the Jack story. I like that instead of sneaking into a giant's castle to steal all his stuff because obviously giants are bad guys, Kate is given the opportunity to be a hero in the way the original brave but brash Jack was not. Stealing from a thief instead of robbing a giant simply because he is a giant lends Kate and the Beanstalk a slight Robin Hood feeling, as it has the hero committing acts of daring in the name of justice rather than personal gain.

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